Talk about addressing the big questions…..Dalrymple reviews David Horowitz’s new book, A Point in Time: The Search for Redemption in This Life and the Next, in City Journal. It may be one of his best-ever essays (though I find myself saying that too often).
Death is every life’s inevitable denouement, but La Rochefoucauld told us that we can no more stare it in the face than we can stare at the sun. For the most part, we continue our daily round in a state of presumed immortality, and because we are so unfamiliar nowadays with death—it having been carefully put out of our sight by a host of professionals—we treat it as an unwarranted intrusion into our affairs rather than as an existential limit to our brief earthly sojourn. For many, death has become anomalous rather than inevitable, something to protest against rather than accept. For them, the concept of a good death is entirely alien or antipathetic.…..If neither formal religious belief nor secular religions like Marxism gives meaning to Horowitz’s life, what does? In large measure, it is his work: a lifetime spent in the crucible of political thought and struggle, first on the left, and then, over the last quarter century or so, as a devout conservative. It is vain to suppose, of course, that any human achievement, even the highest, could possibly be of a duration that would entitle it to the word “eternal.” No literary fame, for example, has so far lasted longer than 3,000 years—not even the blinking of the universe’s eyelid. But we humans must live on a human scale and measure things accordingly. The journalist, while he writes his latest article, thinks it of the greatest significance, though he knows perfectly well that it will be forgotten the day after tomorrow, if indeed it is read or noticed at all. Often I have thought to myself, as I write articles, “If only I can be spared until I have finished it,” though I am aware that even I will have forgotten its content by the week after next.Significance and importance, however, are not natural qualities found inhering in objects or events. Only the appraising mind can impart such meaning.